‘Song, Sound & Silence’ integrates different creative and spiritual practices into one class so that participants feel nourished and balanced in body/mind/spirit.
Our daily lives are often full and many of us simply do not have time to attend yoga classes, silent meditations, community choirs, music jams and other forms of social gatherings all in one week. However, all these elements are beneficial and it is possible to sequence a variety of these practices successfully into a 60 - 90 min gathering/class.
Below is a description of the foundational practices we explore in a class:
Community singing and chanting have been used in folk, indigenous and religious traditions all around the world for millennia as a form of healing, celebration and ritual. For many, it is a very accessible and immediate way to open the heart and feel states of peace and joy. It is also an effective tool for releasing and processing grief, shame, guilt and other vulnerable emotional states. Singing together can also help us receive insights for moving forward in life with increased awareness, courage, resilience and intention.
We chant simple mantras from various traditions and sing heart-based songs composed by popular artists, participants and by Lucas. Accompaniment instruments alternate between shruti box, kora and occasionally keyboard, guitar, and ukulele. Basic percussion instruments include shaker, djembe, cajon and udu.
Singing and chanting is primarily done 'Call and Response' -- sometimes with lyric sheets. No prior musical training or note reading is needed.
Breath work (a.k.a. Pranayama in Sanskrit) can be a powerful way to invigorate and oxygenate the body thereby increasing circulation and the stimulation of various organs. Including pranayama before or after other practices can be a powerful way to fully receive the benefits of a song or movement practice.
Some popular breathing techniques are breath of fire, left/right nostril breathing (nadi shodhana), and the Wim Hof method. We also practice observing the breath in its natural state.
Yoga and Movement
Yoga and improvised movement, especially when combined with live soulful music is a great way to align the body and increase energy flow. A guided physical warm-up is also an effective way to prepare the body for meditation and singing. Sometimes we explore movements related to Tai Chi and Qi Gong and other times we use basic yoga postures or a free improvisation approach.
Meditation helps us really tune into the breath and observe the subtleties of sensations in the body. Equanimity to pleasant and unpleasant sensations is always encouraged. The mindfulness approach of simply observing the breath in its natural state is also an effective practice for calming the mind and body. Sometimes a silent meditation is concluded with a loving-kindness meditation. It can also be used before or after a song to allow space for processing, grounding and receiving. Cushions and props are provided for extra comfort. Chairs for those with physical ailments are available upon request.
Playing User-friendly Instruments
Lucas has a collection of instruments that are very easy to play. These include instruments like shakers, rainsticks, and ocean drums. Other instruments include handmade koras, tongue/steel drums, and the shruti box (a drone instrument that is related to the Indian Harmonium used in kirtan). The shruti box is primarily used to accompany the voice and melodic instruments.
Lucas sometimes plays his didgeridoo, cello, the Japanese shakuhachi, the kora or another instrument at the beginning or ending of a meditation.
Social time for sharing and interacting with others is something that is often missed in Yoga and Meditation classes. Social time is included in a specific and intentional way that varies from class to class. Sometimes we branch off into pairs or small groups and sometimes we share as a group. No one is ever pressured to share. Choosing to be silent is always honored.
However, participants can share a story or memory, a poem, a lesson, something they are grateful for, a song, a dance, a practical tool for living more joyfully etc. After each gathering, tea is served which allows for 10 - 20 min of additional time for connecting with others.
Participants are encouraged to bring a journal and write or draw anything that feels important at any point during the class!
"Song, Sound & Silence is a joyful gathering that explores the balance
between spontaneity and structure to create harmonious practices
that honor both individual and collective needs."